Making its way back to the Caulfield Racecourse for its fifth consecutive year, the Melbourne Guitar Show is eyeing August 2019 off like a dog eyes off its dinner. Poised to be its biggest and best jaunt yet, this year's show – kicking off across the weekend of August 3rd and 4th – promises a (quite literally) jam-packed lineup of performers and exhibitors, with an emphasis on getting punters hands-on with the enormous array of axes on show.
In the lead-up to this year's Melbourne Guitar Show, Australian Guitar is going full steam ahead on the hype train. Every Tuesday and Friday, we'll be going head-to-head with one of the top-notch fretboard warriors making their way to the show, in the pursuit of getting to know a little more about who'll be melting out minds when they take to the stage. In this edition: James Ivanyi.
Playing as part of the Ivanyi trio with an onslaught of crushing instrumental prog-metal, the Sydney shredder has released three acclaimed instrumental albums – Aphasia, The Matter Circumvention and The Usurper – and continues to thrive as a multi-instrumentalist, teacher, producer and musician.
As explained via his Facebook page, Ivanyi is "considered by his fans, peers and industry to be one of the most original, commanding and versatile young guitarists on the scene today. His unique style of technical modern metal fused with the classic sounds of 1960s and 1970s progressive rock music have seen his fan base transcend generations and genres."
What are you most looking forward to about the 2019 Melbourne Guitar Show?
It's my first time attending, so I'm mostly looking forward to the experience, and meeting other musicians and connecting with people in the Australian music industry that I don't get to see very often.
Why do you think events like the Melbourne Guitar Show are so important for guitar lovers?
I think it's very important for the music and guitar community to have a sense of central gathering, where all sides of the circle – from players to distributors and manufactures – can get together and socialise, make acquaintances and experience a shared passion.
What can punters expect from your performance at the Melbourne Guitar Show? Do you have any exciting surprises or curveballs up your sleeve?
They can expect a loud and full-on set from us! We'll be playing songs from my entire back catalogue, including some special old stuff that we haven't played in a very long time. My trio consists of Liam Horgan on bass and Liam Weedall on drums, who are both truly exceptional musicians, so I'm sure the bassists and drummers will really get something out of seeing them in their own right.
What are you most excited about in the guitar world right now?
I'm most excited about the growing instrumental progressive guitar scene. I've noticed it consistently growing over the past few years, but it truly is awesome to see the deep respect and passion for it at the moment – from those in it and fans of it. There isn't a better time to be a part of this wonderful scene and community of guitarists who all support each other.
What innovations would you like to see companies take with the guitar in the near (and distant) future?
I'm not entirely sure where the electric guitar itself can go, but I'm always keeping an eye out for updates and innovations in the tube amp world. I'm a huge fan of the convenience of digital, but grew up with tube amps and still adore them more than anything. To prevent tube amps going extinct, I think a lot of work has to be done do make them as or more useful than digital. Their tourability, size and functionality is all open to innovation. I've actually been conceptualising a design myself, which I hope to have developed one day.
What guitar(s) are you playing on at the moment? Do you have any particular go-tos or favourites?
I'm playing Suhr guitars, and have so as an endorsed artist for the past eight years. I'm using a Collection in the studio, but live I'm usually using my black Suhr Modern Custom – that has been a trusty road warrior for about six years. I recently got my latest Custom Modern, which is more of a vintage inspired machine, and I'll have it with me at the Melbourne Guitar Show for people to check out!
Let’s go way back: what was the first guitar you bought, and what was it about that guitar that reeled you in?
It was a Samick Les Paul copy, and it reeled me in because it looked like the Les Paul Jimmy Page played. Jimmy was my hero growing up, and still is today!
What does the rest of your rig look like?
My complete analogue rig is the Friedman BE100 head, with the Fractal AX8 used in 4CM for effects. For touring, I mostly use just the AX8 direct with a profile of my amplifier. I'm not a big pedal user, but lately two pedals have gotten a lot of use – one is the new Friedman G72 Wah, and the other is an ARC KV2, which I've been using as a lead boost. We're currently developing an exciting compact version of this pedal, of which more details will be announced soon.
If you could design the ultimate guitar, where nothing is impossible with it, what would you put on it?
Honestly, I'm very content with my Suhr Modern Customs, so there isn't much I'd change there. There are, however, some unique electronic design ideas I have that I can't talk about at the moment because currently I'm working on them with Suhr.
Who are your favourite up-and-coming guitarists? Anyone we should be keeping an eye on?
I'm a little out of touch with who's up-and-coming at the moment – mainly because I've been away from social media for the past year or so as I work on my record – but I have a couple of students whose playing and releases I'm personally excited for. My good buddy Stephen Taranto recently put out a killer EP called Permanence, and it's awesome to see him get the recognition he deserves. He's technically on another level, but also writes really intense and interesting music. Not such an up-and-comer, but the new Nick Johnston album Eyes Wide In The Dark is also sensational. Highly recommended!
Melbourne Guitar Show 2019
Stars (ft. Mal Eastick, Nick Charles and Roger McLachlan)
James Norbert Ivanyi
Cartridge Family (ft. Sarah Carroll and Suzanna Espie)
Simon Hosford’s Fair Warning
Saturday August 3rd + Sunday 4th
Caulfield Racecourse, Melbourne VIC
Tickets on sale via australianmusician.com.au